Launched in 2017, TikTok quickly became one of the most popular social media networks on the planet. Unlike other channels, TikTok placed an emphasis on creating short-form video content that was less polished and more authentic than what could be found elsewhere. Today, it’s available in more than 150 countries and attracts more than 1 billion active monthly users. It’s the preferred social media platform for younger users and is becoming increasingly important for independent musicians looking to reach new audiences.
However, it’s not just up-and-coming artists who promote music on TikTok. Nowadays, even established chart-toppers use the platform, with TikTok a key promotional tool within the music marketing industry. Ready to leverage the powerful potential of this platform and incorporate it into a creative promotional strategy? In this guide, you’ll learn about the TikTok algorithm, how to get your music discovered, and key ways you should be promoting your music on the platform.
TikTok Music Promotion Best Practices
In theory, TikTok provides independent artists with an easy way of connecting with huge global audiences. However, to get your music in the ears of as many people as possible, you need to get acquainted with this platform, its algorithms, and TikTok best practices.
How the TikTok Algorithm Works
If you want to get your music heard, you’ll need to wrap your head around the TikTok algorithm. Rather than suggest videos from creators that users have previously watched, TikTok suggests content that it thinks users will enjoy, displaying these suggestions on the user’s For You Page (FYP).
TikTok’s algorithm uses a few different ranking signals to arrive at these suggestions. One of the most important is user interactions. This covers things like the accounts that a user follows, the comments they’ve posted, and creators they’ve actively chosen to ignore. It also considers metrics like video completion rate, as well as the content users themselves have created and uploaded.
Video information is another key ranking factor. It’s largely focused on sounds, captions, hashtags, trending topics, and effects. In other words, it looks at the content that users are actually searching for. While device and account settings are less important, they still play their part. Country settings, language preferences, and device type all fall into this category.
Creating Videos That Resonate With Your Target Audience
Eager to strike the right note with your target audience? If you’re just starting with TikTok, don’t overlook the importance of those first few videos you add to the platform. These inaugural uploads will benefit from a slight algorithm boost that’s reined in afterwards. Putting the effort into creating high-quality and on-brand videos will go a long way in letting you grow your TikTok presence organically.
Make sure you’re creating content that’s tailored toward your target audience. Those first few seconds are crucial in capturing a viewer’s attention and playing to the benefits of short-form video. It’s not exactly easy to convey the context of a full recording in a few seconds. However, you can tease longer content by incorporating dynamic title slides or delivering a quick address to the camera.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Ideally, you’ll want to keep your videos fairly short. You can segment the release of a new track. Alternatively, have a look at your back catalog and see if there’s anything that instantly jumps out as being TikTok-friendly. These short-form videos aren’t just more likely to be watched from start to finish, they’re more suitable for engaging with followers. If you want to leap on an existing trend and encourage followers to use your music, it makes sense to offer them a bite-sized format.
One of the biggest appeals of TikTik is the rough and ready content that creators put out. Used effectively, it can help strengthen your brand persona and create a sense of authenticity.
How To Increase Engagement
Many musicians turn to TikTok because it’s relatively easy for content to be discovered by new audiences. What’s more, when it’s used well, it’s one of the most effective music promotion tools for engaging with fans. Increasing the number of comments on your videos will improve their rank. If you’re struggling to generate many comments, there’s plenty you can do to remedy the issue.
One of the simplest ways to engage your audience is to include a call to action. Actively ask your viewers to leave comments. If you want to prioritize other video elements, use captions to include a CTA instead. However, there’s no point in encouraging your followers to comment if you’re not going to read them. Thank eager commentators for their contributions, referring to them by username. Has someone left a less-than-glowing comment? View it as constructive criticism. You want to present yourself as an approachable artist who actually cares about what their listeners have to say.
If your viewers need a little nudge, consider prize giveaways. A simple competition can involve picking out a comment at random and awarding that user a prize. You don’t have to go crazy here. A ticket to a local gig or vinyl pressing of your new EP is going to cost you next to nothing, but they could generate thousands of additional TikTok video comments.
How To Use Hashtags Effectively
Looking for more tips on how to promote TikTok video content? Hashtags can give you a significant edge and boost your visibility. However, it’s not as simple as stuffing your uploads with trending hashtags. You need to be doing your homework and picking the right ones to attach to your content. Use a combination of niche and trending tags. Make sure it’s relevant to the content that you’re creating, your genre, and your brand persona. If you need some inspiration, look to see what similar artists are using. Why use niche hashtags if they’re not trending? If someone does search for that hashtag, there’ll be far less competition for your content.
Hashtags and TikTok trends go hand in hand. TikTok challenges are a great way of broadening your reach and tapping into new audiences. If a new challenge is trending on the platform, adding the relevant hashtag to your videos is going to go down well with the algorithm. However, you don’t way to stray too far from your established brand here. If you want to engage with hashtags and challenges, make sure you’re being consistent and the approach aligns with your content strategy.
Leveraging TikTok Trends To Promote Your Music
In order for a video to go viral on TikTok, it’s got to pull in a minimum of 250,000 views. However, you’re not going to stand a chance of landing these kinds of numbers if you’re not embracing current TikTok trends. Music and sound bites lie at the heart of some of the biggest viral trends of all time. Dance routines, lip-syncing challenges, and visual memes are all effective ways of promoting your music and securing view numbers that land you square in the viral category.
Putting These Trends Into Practice
While you can consider setting your own TikTok challenge or starting a trend yourself, you should first focus on making your content as TikTok-friendly as possible. Remember that you’re dealing with a platform that favors short-form content. The most engaging videos rarely run beyond the 15–second mark. Does your track have an instantly recognizable beat or hook that’s likely to be adopted for the next big viral dance craze? While you don’t want this to define the music creation process, it’s definitely something to keep in the back of your mind when composing material.
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Feeling confident that you have something that can catch fire? Don’t wait for it to go viral. You need to be proactive here. Encourage followers to create their own dance challenges based on your music. Alternatively, think about asking aspiring artists to create singing duet videos. If you’re actively promoting a particular track, make sure you’re including the title in w whatever campaign hashtag you decide on.
TikTok Success Stories
In 2022, “Cardbox Box” was released by British R&B group, Flo. While the track earned the trio praise from the likes of Missy Elliot and SZA, it wasn’t until DJ Happi released a remix that the track really gained traction. The remix sparked a dance trend that went viral. By the end of 2022, more than 1.2 million #cardboardbox videos had been uploaded to TikTok. Within months, the girl group had scooped the Rising Star Award at the Brits and topped Radio 1’s Sound of 2023 shortlist.
Another British artist enjoyed considerable success in 2022 thanks to TikTok. Croydon-born rapper Stepz was already enjoying considerable airtime with the catchy “Cramp Dat”, but it was the dance trend that the track sparked that catapulted him into the limelight. He was the most-viewed UK artist in 2022, beating major recording stars like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. Today, Stepz has more than 3 million followers on TikTok alone.
Reaching New Audiences on TikTok
If you’re completely new to TikTok, you’ll need to establish your target audience. An easy way to do this is to use similar artists and use their existing audience to get an idea of the kind of demographic you should be catering to. You can go even further by delving into user interests and online behaviors. Is your genre of music more popular in certain territories? Make sure you're prioritizing these regions when producing TikTok content.
You can capitalize on existing audiences to boost your own. Collaborating with more established artists is an effective way of turbocharging your own audience numbers. What’s more, TikTok boasts several tools that make this particularly easy, including the Duet feature.
If you have some marketing budget to play with, you can also explore TikTok Promote. This paid advertising tool offers in-depth guidance on how to increase the number of video views. What’s more, you can access useful tracking information that can be used to determine the effectiveness of your content. If someone’s failing to strike a chord with followers, you can quickly retool your strategy accordingly.
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Now’s the Time To Start Promoting Your Music on TikTok
For independent artists, TikTok is a powerful promotional tool that can help get their music in front of more people and grow their fanbases. Although there’s a lot of competition out there, it’s a relatively easy-to-use platform that doesn’t require any advanced insights. Provided you’re capitalizing on the latest trends, have a handle on hashtags, and understand the TikTok algorithm and ranking factors, you’re off to a great start.
Increasing engagement is relatively straightforward. Interacting with viewers in the comments or including CTAs goes a long way in striking the right note with your fanbase. If you need help expanding your audience, collaborating with established artists or partnering with influencers can also be useful.
While leveraging social media platforms like TikTok is simple enough, you’ll need a helping hand taking those next steps. If you’re looking to progress in the industry, IndieFlow is here to help. Our music promotion tools can increase your visibility and grow your audience organically. Make the right first impression with a professional EPK, create promo videos in moments, and more.